NewsAug 22, 2018

Campus rescue dog makes People Magazine contest

Ollie the Siberian Husky mix vies for “World’s Cutest Rescue Dog”

Ollie, a husky dog walks across the grass.

With his searing bright blue eyes and playful personality, Ollie has been melting hearts at Lesley since he arrived in May.

This week, his charm hit the national stage with a scheduled cameo on the Today show and a forthcoming appearance in People Magazine as a finalist in the World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest.

“He’s one of the cutest puppies I’ve seen,” says student Theresa Pereira, who met Ollie on his first visit to campus. “He’s a chill puppy. That’s why I like him so much.”

Theresa Pereira is bent down to eye level with the dog and has her face scrunched up as he noses her mouth.
Student Theresa Pereira is a big Ollie fan.

Ollie’s owner Alecia Baran is the university’s athletic trainer and a long-time dog owner. Huskies are her favorite breed.

“They’re very loyal and loveable and stubborn at the same time,” says Baran.

She decided to adopt a new puppy after losing her dog, Aspen, last year. The unexpected death compounded an already-difficult stretch for Baran, who moved home 2½ years ago to care for her mother who has Alzheimer’s disease.

When she heard that New Jersey’s Husky House had nine puppies whose pregnant mother was rescued from a hoarder, Baran applied to adopt one. She received Ollie, who is Siberian Husky with a touch of border collie, when he was 2 months old.

“There hasn’t been a lot of joy in the house. Bringing [Ollie] in as a little baby and all the laughing and goofy things he would do just really brought that joy back to me,” Baran says.

Ollie's owner holds him in her arms.
Athletic trainer Alecia Baran holds her rescue pup Ollie, an almost six-month old Siberian husky mix.

She brought Ollie to campus throughout May, and he became a popular puppy on Doble Quad, joining the growing list of campus canines that includes Tally the therapy dog, Dai Mai the Public Safety pooch and Trooper the library book hound. With all the love lavished on him by students, Ollie surely qualified as one of the cutest rescue dogs around, so Baran submitted his photo when she saw the People Magazine contest for World’s Cutest Rescue Dog.

She recently found out he made the top 10 list and will be up for the final prize: $1,000 donated to the shelter of your choice and a year’s supply of Pedigree dog food. Voting for the winner will be open from Aug. 23 to 31.

Baran says it would be nice to win, but “I already feel like a winner, just having him in the magazine and on TV…and being able to bring awareness to how beautiful a mutt can be,” she says.

Three students crouch down to pet Ollie on Doble Quad.
Students greet Ollie on Doble Quad.

As Baran sees it, every dog rescued means two are saved: the one you take home and the one the shelter can now rescue with your adoption fees. If Ollie wins, Baran will direct the donation to Husky House and give the dog food to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Adoption Center in Boston.